7 Ways VR is Benefiting the Healthcare Sector (Part 2)

 

If you are reading this, you most probably enjoyed the first part of our blog explaining use cases and benefits of VR in the healthcare industry. If you are among those who happened to stumble upon this second part before the first one, you may jump to its prequel too for even more healthcare applications in VR. With this second part, we continue on the journey to explore more VR applications and the potential of this versatile technology in the medical field.

 

4. Diagnostics and Patient Treatment

  • Diagnostics:

Comparison of 2D Rib Contouring and VR Rib ContouringCorrect and timely diagnosis is crucial when it comes to treatment. Along with various methods like CT and MRI scans, diagnostic imaging with VR helps doctors diagnose diseases. In addition to saving time, this may sometimes prevent the need for surgery or other invasive procedures like using spinal or brain electrodes.

Moreover, scientists believe that numerous cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be pre-diagnosed in individuals who are prone to risk of these diseases. For example, VR is used to test the navigational skills of users and those who give poor performance are considered most likely to develop Alzheimer’s later in life.

 

  • Patient Treatment:

Child lying in a hospital bed, wearing VR headsetIn terms of patient treatment, VR can be used to relax hospitalized patients, especially kids, with immersive entertainment options. The technology also allows doctors to educate patients about their disease and course of treatment to be followed. The same is true for complex surgical procedures, as VR allows patients to view their tumors or other internal problems in 360 degrees. This convinces patients to willingly give consent for medical procedures and ensures their confidence in the medical care they are receiving.

Another benefit provided by VR for patient treatment is the ability to present cases to the best healthcare experts around the world. Doctors can not only study cases and discuss ideas together in virtual meetings, but they can also perform medical procedures on patients remotely. Remote inspections mean that patients need not be present in the hospital, and still have convenient yet complete screenings conducted within the comfort of their homes. Patients’ data can also be stored and circulated in 3D with ease among doctors anywhere in the world. 5 doctors carrying out medical inspection of ribs, heart and lungs, with VR

VR also presents unique treatments for certain diseases like poor eyesight. IrisVision is developed by Dr. Frank Weblin, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of California, and his team. The product restores vision for people with poor eyesight with the help of a VR experience. Patients can magnify desired objects in the visual scene without losing awareness of the overall environment around them. Other use cases in this regard include providing meaningful experiences to people with cerebral palsy or the elderly who are also unable to carry out various tasks as their health does not permit them. Viarama uses HTC Vive headsets and Google Earth VR to enable the elderly to travel back to where they got married, or where they did their national service. Rendever is also providing shared VR experiences for the elderly to reduce loneliness and depression.

 

5. Disease awareness

Another useful healthcare application of VR is to raise awareness amongst healthcare professionals of the daily struggle of patients suffering from different diseases, for example, Parkinson’s disease. We Are Alfred is a VR product created by Embodied Labs that allows young medical students understand what it is like to live as a 74-year-old man with visual and hearing impairments. Each user can become Alfred for 7 minutes and experience life from the older patient’s perspective. This not only helps doctors acquire empathy but also helps with provision of adequate treatment. This can apply to other diseases as well.

Woman using Stanford Virtual Heart to understand heart conditionIn a similar context, VR allows people to better understand diseases and their symptoms. Individuals without autism can experience what life is like for their autistic family members. Another example is Stanford Virtual Heart, that interactively explains children’s heart conditions to their families. Therefore, disease awareness can be created amongst all who are in some way linked to the patient or even amongst the general public. 

 

6. VR Architectural Design

Hospitals are one of the many projects in which misplanning can not be afforded. VR can help architects avoid inaccuracies in minor details by allowing for quick, real-time communication between different project teams and specialists. Architects can use VR to design and test new buildings. Using a VR headset, glove and input device, users can move around, walk through the building and interact with the environment. Lobby from Numena's Braun Aesculap Spine VR SimulationThese virtual tours enable architects to check how effective the design is in terms of patient comfort, emergency handling and other factors. Early feedback can be collected from personnel to avoid larger mistakes from occurring. Additionally, architects based in any location can contribute their ideas and designs can be altered numerous times without incurring high costs for physical layouts. This is both cost and time-effective.The construction of hospitals and other medical centers is, therefore, another place where virtual reality provides huge benefits. In this context, we would like to draw your attention to the Braun Aesculap Spine VR Simulation of our partner NUMENA. The team of architects created a responsive three-dimensional lobby to act as B. Braun’s visual identity in the virtual world. The lobby environment reacts to changes in user input and to scene transitions.

 

7. VR Marketing

Marketing has always been one of the most important applications of virtual reality. It can be used to explain what a disease feels like, with its symptoms, and how a particular medicine treats it. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) used VR to depict The Migraine Experience, which helped people understand what exactly a migraine felt like. Consequently, they were willing to buy the medicine as they had experienced the product’s effect on their health.

Phone app and googles for the Migraine Experience by GSK

Hospitals can also be marketed using virtual tours for patients. For example, expecting parents can virtually see all facilities that would be provided to them along with the rooms they would deliver and stay in. A similar project was carried out in 2015, where the families of sick children were given the opportunity to take a virtual tour of the Perth Children’s Hospital so that they would be satisfied with the medical services.

Another application is conducting clinical trials. IQVIA is managing virtual clinical trials at numerous locations to select the best candidates. They are able to recruit faster from diverse populations and retain more patients, while also maximising patient safety. Expert teams collaborate using VR to share and examine this data with greater efficiency and accelerated timeliness. VR marketing for educational experiences is therefore a significant application of VR in healthcare, as it allows global expertise to be utilized and shortens time for drugs to reach the market.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, VR is providing revolutionary solutions to medical issues which were not being effectively dealt with by conventional methods.  The healthcare industry is, therefore, accepting and utilizing VR at an unprecedented speed already. This is not just owing to the multiple existing use cases and benefits VR provides for the sector, but also because of potential applications that might benefit healthcare professionals and patients in unimaginable ways in the near future. This is supported by economic facts and figures as the virtual reality healthcare market is expected to reach USD 6.91 billion by 2026. In case you have not tested your medical applications in VR yet, what are you waiting for? Try STAGE for free now :)